Ghost, Goblins and Clinical Trials

by: Brandy Haslam, MBA

Halloween is a time for haunted houses, ghost and goblins, scary stories and terrifying clown movies. We love scaring ourselves. That exhilarating feeling we get from the best haunted houses and scariest movies is something we don’t often get the rest of the year.

I personally love haunted houses and make it an effort every year to find the scariest one. This year one of the haunted houses I went to had an insane asylum theme. Creepy I know! The thought of mad scientists, crazy experiments, and even crazier outcomes is a thrill. Perhaps because unconventional and experimental ways of treating patients used to be a real and undoubtedly scary occurrence.

Although these types of things have a place in history, clinical trial participation to this day continues to carry the stigma of mad scientists, dark dungeons and guinea pigs.

While clinical trials aren’t for everyone, participation shouldn’t be scary and here are a few reasons why.

1. Board-certified physicians and medical staff care for you throughout the entire duration of a trial. Participants in studies say that they received a higher level of care during the study than they receive with their primary care physician.

2. Institutional Review Boards (IRB) protect your rights. All clinical trials are closely monitored by the IRB to ensure safe practices and protect the rights and welfare of all patients. This is something that is not available with normal standard of care at your physician’s office.

3. Clinical trials are free and no insurance is required. Those that participate can receive thousands of dollars in free care and possible treatment. Although placebo is possible in some trials, your medical team will provide standard of care if you are not responding to treatment.

4. Participants have a chance to learn how to better control their medical conditions and help advance medicine. Physicians and medical staff help you learn more about the causes of your medical condition and new ways you can gain control. You also have the opportunity to help physicians find treatments that may work better and more effectively than current options.

The unknown can be scary, we know. Part of erasing the stigma of clinical trial participation is education and understanding. We encourage you to take an active role in your health by learning how to get involved in clinical trials in your area. Find studies at or visit the US Department of Health and Human Services for information about clinical trials.